IRL: Indy 500: Race report

FRANCHITTI REIGNS AT SOGGY 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 27, 2007 -- Dario Franchitti became the second Scotsman to win the Indianapolis 500, claiming victory in a rain-shortened 91st running of "The Greatest Spectacle in ...

FRANCHITTI REIGNS AT SOGGY 91st INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, May 27, 2007 -- Dario Franchitti became the second Scotsman to win the Indianapolis 500, claiming victory in a rain-shortened 91st running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

The Andretti Green Racing driver, who joins Jim Clark as the only Scottish drivers to win the race, inherited the lead on Lap 155 when teammate Tony Kanaan pitted, and the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone splashed across the finish line under the yellow/checkered flag combination on Lap 166 as rain doused the cavernous facility.

"Who would have thought it?" said Franchitti, whose rain-soaked firesuit didn't dampen his enthusiasm as he chugged the traditional winner's bottle of milk in Victory Circle. "I can't believe it. It's the Indianapolis 500."

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was runner-up, while pole sitter and two-time 500-Mile Race winner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske finished third. Sam Hornish Jr., who last year gave team owner Roger Penske his 14th Indy 500 title, finished fourth and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 12 Luczo Dragon Racing car (a Team Penske satellite program) rounded out the top five.

The 2007 edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," played out before a boisterous crowd of more than 250,000, had numerous turns that determined the finish order.

Race Day started and ended with rain. Though the 33 cars took the green flag from honorary starter Peyton Manning at the appointed time, the red flag flew on Lap 113 because of a cloud burst that enveloped the racetrack. After a 2-hour, 57-minute delay, Kanaan led the field to the green flag. During the three pace laps, Franchitti pitted because of a right-rear tire puncture.

AGR drivers -- Kanaan, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti -- took turns on the point during the ensuing 20 laps (Kanaan leading Patrick by 0.4277 of a second on Lap 135). But when the teammates, who last pitted on Lap 100, ducked in for 22 gallons of ethanol and four Firestone Firehawks under green on Lap 137, Franchitti assumed the lead.

It was Jaques Lazier's turn to move to the front when Franchitti pitted on Lap 143, but Kanaan was the leader on Lap 150 (4.1198 seconds ahead of Hornish and turning a lap of 222.645 mph). It was under yellow (single-car crash in Turn 3 involving the No. 25 Roth Racing entry) when Kanaan's No. 11 Team 7-Eleven rumbled onto pit lane. Franchitti again assumed the lead, with Dixon on his tail and Briscoe not far behind.

The deal was sealed on Lap 163 when a multi-car crash on the backstretch, sparked by the Nos. 10 (2005 winner Dan Wheldon) and 26 (Marco Andretti) cars touching wheels. The cars of Ed Carpenter and Buddy Rice also were involved. As the Delphi Safety Team was clearing the racetrack, the skies opened.

Scott Sharp (No. 8 Patron Sharp Rahal Leterman Racing), Tomas Scheckter (No. 2 Vision Racing), Patrick (No. 8 Team Motorola), Davey Hamilton (No. 02 HP Vision Racing) and Vitor Meira (No. 4 Delphi Panther Racing) filled out the top 10.

RACE DAY NOTEBOOK:

Kevin Swindell led all 50 laps to win the 62nd "Night Before the 500" USAC National Midget Car Series event Saturday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

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Eric Gordon won the 59th "Little 500" USAC Sprint Car event Saturday night at Anderson Speedway. It was Gordon's eighth win in the event.

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Five members of the United States Armed Forces -- one each from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy -- will sing the National Anthem before the start of the 90th Indianapolis 500 today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The singers are: Senior Master Sergeant Angela Burns, U.S. Air Force; Petty Officer Lisa Williamson, U.S. Coast Guard; Staff Sergeant Colin Eaton, U.S. Army; Petty Officer J. David Sigmon, U.S. Navy; Sergeant Terri Kopetzki, U.S. Marine Corps

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PRE-RACE HISTORICAL RACE NOTES:

* The best finish by a woman in the Indianapolis 500 was fourth by Danica Patrick in 2005.

* Marco Andretti and Michael Andretti are the fourth father-son combination to race in the same Indianapolis 500. The other father-son duos: Mario and Michael Andretti, Mario and Jeff Andretti and Al Unser and Al Unser Jr.

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Television personality and actress Melissa Rivers took a few laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Pace Car on Saturday with IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood behind the wheel.

MELISSA RIVERS: "It's unbelievable. It's absolutely mind-boggling to see in person. You know, I've seen it in person my whole life and to see it up close and personal is quite an experience." (Was it scary riding with Chitwood): "He was very kind and very gentle. We were both a little concerned about the camera mount, so we didn't open it up completely. Maybe I can talk him into a lap without the cameras later on." (About riding in the Pace Car): "It felt like we were barely going at all. We were definitely close enough to the walls. We were talking about the fact that people don't realize how narrow the track is, and he (Chitwood) was saying when you have 11 rows of three Indy cars behind you chomping at the bit before you get out of the way, it's pretty intimidating."

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The latest race technology was created for airplanes but it is now a unique new addition to Andretti Green Racing's arsenal of strategic tools. The team, which will field five cars in the Indianapolis 500, has exclusive access to real-time weather data, through its partnership with XM Satellite Radio, delivered trackside to team computers by XM's satellites.

The result is up-to-the-second information about critical weather elements that can impact race car performance, from wind speed and humidity to storm cells and lightning strikes. Andretti Green Racing's engineers receive a constant stream of localized weather data directly to pit computers. The data is overlaid on a GPS map, and can be viewed in multiple formats. The result is an extensive system of current and approaching weather measurements, all of which allow AGR to customize racecar set-up and formulate strategy.

KIM GREEN (Co-owner, Andretti Green Racing): "With the weather forecast to be a major factor in this year's Indy 500, we're happy to have XM Weather technology available as an additional strategic tool. Racing is both science and art, and successful racing requires the absolute best combination of both."

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Sam Hornish Jr. has altered his helmet design for the 91st Indianapolis 500 to commemorate his 2006 "500" win. Hornish's helmet will continue to fly the red-and-white stripes of the American flag but will be intersected by a row of bricks running the length of Hornish's helmet. In addition, the face mask of the helmet will feature white stars but will be flanked by wings similar to the logo of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jason Beam painted Hornish's new helmet.

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think the helmet came out really well. The design is very personal, because the Indianapolis 500 has always been a very special part of my life. The wings and bricks are two symbols that really speak to the history of the race and the reasons why the Indy 500 is truly 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'"

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The 92nd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is scheduled for Sunday, May 25, 2008. Ticket information can be found in a foldout page between pages 16-17 of the 2007 Indianapolis 500 Official Program. Ticket information also can be obtained by calling the Speedway's ticket office, (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY, or by logging on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

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91ST INDIANAPOLIS 500 PRE-RACE CELEBRITY QUOTES:

PATRICK DEMPSEY (Actor, Pace Car driver): (About driving the Pace Car): "I'll never get the opportunity to race here, so this is the closest I'll come. It's hard to find the words to describe it. It's a memory I'll always cherish. This means so much to me. This is my fourth year here, but I've been watching it as long as I can remember." (Who do you think will win today?) "I think TK (Tony Kanaan) has a really strong shot. He's always good on the ovals. I think he may take it. Dan Wheldon also is very strong. Penske, you never know, he always finds a way to win the race. And Dario (Franchitti), he did a phenomenal job qualifying. It's a shame he didn't get the pole. And Tomas (Scheckter), he's an incredible driver. He never holds back. He's very passionate about it, and you've got to respect that. Some days are good; some days are bad. He's got some great results this year, so hopefully that continues." (About convincing colleague Eric Dane from "Grey's Anatomy" to come to the "500"): "I was like: 'Do you want to come? You'll have a great time.' He really has fallen in love with the '500,' and I'm happy to see that, that someone else gets it, as well."

ERIC DANE (Actor): (First time to an Indy-car race?): "No, I saw Danny Sullivan race in Laguna Seca back in '86 or '87. This is the first time I've been to the '500.' This is the granddaddy of them all, THE spectacle. The Indy 500 is the Indy 500, and that's what got me interested in coming here. There is no comparison as far as races go." (About riding with Patrick Dempsey on the track Saturday in the Pace Car): "150 miles an hour, 120 in the turn. I've never been that fast in a car before. 150 miles an hour -- you better hope you're on a racetrack! He (Dempsey) was very relaxed throughout the whole thing. I kept looking at the speedometer, then looking at him to make sure he was still calm. As long as he was cool, I figured we were all good. No fear, I trusted him. He does this -- he's a race car driver. I'm ready to go as fast as you take me. I'm driving one of the pace cars today, one of the 80 mile-an-hour pace cars."

RICHARD PETTY (Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion): "I'm here to support John Andretti. He's going to drive for Kyle (Petty) later on in the year. You know, he's drove for us before. This is his first time in 10 or 12 years since he's been here. So I'm here to give him moral support." (About IndyCar Series cars compared to stock cars): "They are just so much different. They are just airplane wings with wheels on them. They put on a heck of show, and that is what we came to see." (Are you interested in starting an IndyCar Series team?): "No, I don't think so. I think these things are little bit beyond my years. I'm still from the old school. I still like to see windshields, wheels, fenders, bumpers and stuff like that. I never did really look at the Indy car. Stock cars were all we ever did, and that is where I stayed."

MARCUS ALLEN (Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Heisman Trophy winner): "I'm here with the Luczo Dragon racing team. I'm with All Stars Helping Kids. Part of the proceeds of their effort today will go to charity. It's one of, I think, 12 foundations involved here. It's really exciting." (As an athlete who's been on a big stage, what's it like for you to be at the Indy 500?): "This is new to me. I grew up watching this on TV and watching Mario Andretti, so this is exciting for me to be here. I'm here with Steve (Luczo), who's a dear friend, and Jay Penske, so it's exciting to be here to support these guys."

MITCH DANIELS (Governor, state of Indiana): "This is the greatest day of the year in Indiana. I just hope the weather will cooperate. I'd be hard to top last year, both for the weather and the racing. If I wasn't an optimist, I would have never run for this job. I am optimistic about today."

GREG ODEN (Indiana Mr. Basketball in 2006, center for 2007 NCAA runner-up Ohio State): "I've been learning about the history of Indy cars. It's cool to see the cars. I saw the steering wheel, and I got confused. Hands down to anybody who does this. I'm enjoying myself. It's a crazy atmosphere out here, but I'm going to have fun. I have not been to the race before. I came to the track to wave the green flag at practice one day last year. I'm ready to see some cars go by!" (About the cars) "They're so small. I think I was bigger than the car itself. (Oden is 7 feet tall). Someone said I could wear one as a skate and just roll around out there." (His pick for the win today): "A guy that I did meet is Alex Barron. He's a really great guy. He's my favorite to win today."

BARON DAVIS (Guard, Golden State Warriors): "I'm here to support the No. 12 car, Ryan Briscoe, as well as Team Play --The Baron Davis Foundation -- and LAStars.net charities. I've been friends with Steve Luczo for a while, and he's been a mentor to me throughout our friendship. This is one of the greatest events I've ever been to -- far beyond any basketball game you can imagine. When those cars start up, you feel the intensity of what it's like to be here at the Indy 500. For me, this is a release from basketball. This is exciting."

JOHN OATES (Musician, Hall & Oates): "I've got my 11-year-old son with me. He's here for his first race. We're really looking forward to it. We were with a bunch of guys, Gene Simmons, Apolo Ohno. It's really great to be here."

MIKE CONLEY JR. (Guard, 2007 NCAA runner-up Ohio State): (About growing up near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "To tell you the truth, I never knew where the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway was when I was growing up. I stayed on my side of town and concentrated on basketball. I never had a chance to come over here." (About preparing for the NBA Draft): "It's crazy. It has been a whirlwind." (About being in the garage area): "It was fun. I got to sit in the car. I couldn't really fit, but it was exciting."

CANDICE MICHELLE (WWE Diva, GoDaddy.com Girl): "This is my second time being here. It's a better opportunity this year. I was here about four years ago up in the suites. I was new to racing. I was the fan who thought it was just driving in circles. After being in the pits, I learned what goes into racing and really started to support it. I came back this year to support Danica Patrick. She's such a strong woman in a man's sport. She's not just a pretty face. She is very competitive." (What do you remember from your first year?): "I remember sitting up in the suites. They gave me ear plugs and I didn't think I needed them, but once the race started I ran and got them because they were so loud."

RAY LIOTTA (Actor): (Is this your first time here?): "This is my first time out to the track. I'm been to Fontana, but I've never been here. I was asked to come, and I wanted my daughter to experience. She's having a great time, and I'm glad to be here."

TYLER CHRISTOPHER (Actor): "Life is good. I'm just here to enjoy the race. My fiancee (Brienne Pedigo) is here as a pit reporter. I'm just trying to learn this crazy race business." (What have you been doing?): "I had the privilege of going through the garage of Panther Racing and seeing the shells (of the car). I now understand why so many of the drivers are smaller. I can't imagine being in one of those things trying to maneuver. I couldn't fit in the car."

ALISON SWEENEY (Actress): "This is my first time here at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway, and it is awesome. I am having such a blast." (Who do you think will win?): "It is hard to say. I'd really like to see an Andretti win. That would be great."

PEYTON MANNING (Indianapolis Colts quarterback, race honorary starter): "Before coming here in 1998, I always heard what a big deal the Indianapolis 500 was. I've been to the race a few times, but this year is special because I'm a part of the parade yesterday and waving the flag today. I'm kind of worried that it may be me causing this bad weather between the Super Bowl and this. I'm just glad to be involved. I live here, so the party comes right through Indy, and I just stay out of the way. It's a great time to be in Indianapolis. Obviously, the more awareness this city can get from events like the Indianapolis 500, the Final Fours and with the Super Bowl. It's been a lot of fun to be a Hoosier and to be a part of this community." (What's bigger bling: the Borg-Warner or the Super Bowl trophy?): "Obviously, I'm biased. I'm excited about being a part of the Super Bowl. It's the first championship brought back to this city. The most special times have been to share it with the fans. It's been a team and city-wide state effort."

CHRIS "LIGHTS OUT" LYTLE (Ultimate Fighting Championship competitor): (Your thoughts on this year's race): "It's funny, because I was talking to someone and said, 'These people are crazy!' They looked at me and reminded me how I get in a cage and fight people. I'm not used to that, so I think that's crazy. They go 225 miles per hour. I don't understand it. If I was in a car going that fast, I wouldn't be able to handle it." (Who do you think will win?): "I'm going with Helio Castroneves. Usually, I never pick the pole sitter because they rarely win. But from what I've seen, I think he has the best chance. I'm usually always wrong, but if I was betting, then that's who I would pick."

LUDACRIS (Actor, musician): "How can I be too risky for the Indianapolis 500? These cars are going at 225 miles per hour. I'm ready to go." (About gaining so much attention when he comes here): "That means a lot. Make sure you tell the Indy 500 people that so I can keep coming back. I'm going to bring the whole city of Atlanta, Georgia, next time. The fans love me, and I show the love back. I have a lot of fans here in Indianapolis, and I appreciate it." (Who will win the race?): "Danica (Patrick) is my girl. I know she's married, but she's my pick for this year's race. Last year, I was in the Andretti pit, and I've always wanted Michael to win. Now that Danica is with Andretti Green Racing, I'm rooting for her along with both Marco and Michael."

IAN ZIERING (Actor): "I'm a big fan of motorsports. Two wheels, four wheels, one wheel, whatever. If it's got a combustible engine, I'll watch it run. Today, the Indianapolis 500, it is the biggest event in racing. To be here where the whole world is focused on the sport, it's an honor to be among all the icons of the sport. This is my first time here. It's very thrilling for me. I mean, I smell the rocket fuel. I smell the burned rubber, and it gives me a lift. It's just exciting to be around it. I had dinner last night with Scott Sharp and Bobby Rahal. Scott is an excellent driver. He's my pick to win."

APOLO ANTON OHNO: (Olympic gold medalist, winner, "Dancing with the Stars"): "I'm always interested in anything that goes fast, to be honest with you. I can't help it. I've always loved car racing, and I've seen the race on TV many, many times. I've never been here in person. I'm very excited to be here. I have a pick but I'm not going to say it. It will jinx it."

GEN. CHUCK YEAGER (First person to break sound barrier): "I've probably been here 10 times. I drove the Pace Car twice. I've flown over four times." (About the speeds) "It's all relative to me. I fly 2, 3,000 miles an hour. As long as you don't hit anything, that's all that matters. I've driven these cars, got to 212, 213 (mph). I've driven cars over 600 miles an hour!"

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* When #11 Tony Kanaan took the lead in the 2007 Indianapolis 500 on Lap 1, it represented the sixth consecutive race that Kanaan has led in his Indianapolis 500 career. Kanaan now shares the Indianapolis 500 record for most consecutive races led with Rick Mears, who also led six consecutive years (1979-84). But Kanaan is the only driver to have led six consecutive races starting with his rookie year. Mears failed to lead the race his rookie year in 1978.

* This is the third consecutive Indianapolis 500 that the leader of the opening lap has started second.

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* At the 50-lap mark, there were eight lead changes. The record for the most lead changes at the 50-lap mark is 17 in 1923.

* When Marco Andretti took the lead on Lap 41, he became the first Andretti to lead in his first two starts at the Indianapolis 500.

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* When #26 Marco Andretti led the race on Lap 104, it represented the 1,000th leading lap by the Andretti family in the Indianapolis 500.

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1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti offered comments about the performance of his grandson, Marco Andretti, who was in second when rain forced the suspension of the race.

MARIO ANDRETTI: "I think he was driving like a master again today. When the car is there, he can drive. That is no question." (Did he know he was going to get passed?): "He felt he was going to be a sitting duck. He wasn't worried except for the possibility of rain. He felt he had a fight in him. It's just a weather situation." (About Marco being a legitimate driver): "I agree, of course. Even last year, he was competitive all day, too. It wasn't like he just landed in second. He proved it again this time. If he has a car under him, then he can drive."

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INDYCAR SERIES POST-RACE NOTES:

* This is Dario Franchitti's fifth career IndyCar Series victory and his first victory of the season. His last win came at the California Speedway in October 2005.

* This is the Andretti Green second win of the season and its 25th win in the IndyCar Series, breaking a tie with Team Penske for winningest IndyCar Series entrant.

* Spotter Dave Reininger had a perfect weekend at Indianapolis. Reininger serves as spotter for Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti and Freedom 100 winner Alex Lloyd.

* Davey Hamilton finished ninth in his first IndyCar Series event since June 2001.

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91st INDIANAPOLIS 500 POST-RACE NOTES:

* Dario Franchitti, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, is the 66th driver to win the Indianapolis 500, including the two co-winners. He is the second native of Scotland to win the Indianapolis 500. Jim Clark (1965) is the other.

* Franchitti is 34 years, 8 days old. He is the sixth 34-year-old to win the "500." Other drivers who were 34 when they won the Indianapolis 500 are Joe Boyer (1924), Wilbur Shaw (1937), Bill Vukovich (1953), Bobby Unser (1968) and Tom Sneva (1983). Like Franchitti they were all first-time winners at Indianapolis.

* This is the third victory for car No. 27 in Indianapolis 500 history. The last time the number won was with Jaques Villeneuve in 1995.

* Franchitti is the 10th driver to win the Indianapolis 500 from the outside of the front row. The last time was in 2002 when Helio Castroneves won.

* This is Andretti Green Racing's second Indianapolis 500 victory. It is the 18th entrant to win multiple Indianapolis 500s.

* Michael Andretti led a lap of the 2007 event. This raised his career lap leader total to 431 laps, which is ninth place on the all-time lap leader list. Michael Andretti's 431 laps led represent the most laps led by a driver who has never won the Indianapolis 500.

* Today's race was the ninth Indy 500 that Michael Andretti has led, tying him with Rick Mears and Rex Mays for fifth on the all-time list for most races led. A.J. Foyt has the record with laps led in 13 races.

* Shortened Indianapolis 500-Mile Races
    1916: 120 laps (scheduled)
    1926: 160 laps (400 miles, rain)
    1950: 138 laps (345 miles, rain)
    1973: 133 laps (332.5 miles, rain)
    1975: 174 laps (435 miles, rain)
    1976: 102 laps (255 miles, rain)
    2004: 180 laps (450 miles, rain)
    2007: 166 laps (415 miles, rain)

* Danica Patrick has finished on the lead lap in all three of her Indianapolis 500 starts.

* Davey Hamilton and Alex Barron shared the honor for highest position advancement (11 positions) of all drivers in the field. Hamilton started 20th and finished ninth, while Barron started 26th and finished 15th.

* Vitor Meira's 10th-place finish gives him four consecutive top-10 finishes in his five-year Indianapolis 500 career. He finished 12th in 2003, which was his only finish outside the top 10 in Indianapolis 500 competition. He has finished on the lead lap in four of his five Indianapolis 500 starts. In 2003 as a rookie, he finished one lap off the pace.

* The 2007 rain-shortened Indianapolis 500 had nine different lap leaders. This is the greatest number of different lap leaders for an Indianapolis 500 that went less than the full distance. The greatest number of different lap leaders for an Indianapolis 500 that went the full distance is 12 in 1993.

* Tony Kanaan was the top lap leader with 83 laps led.

* 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti led 34 laps. This total exceeded his previous career number of laps led of 16 (1 in 2004 and 15 in 2005).

* Tony Kanaan recorded the fastest lap of the race (223.420 mph) on Lap 18. This is the third time that Tony Kanaan has recorded the fastest lap in the Indianapolis 500. The other two years were 2003 and 2005.

* There are seven Indianapolis 500-Mile Races that have ended under caution: 1940, 1988, 1989, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007.

* 2007 represents the third time that a race has been stopped twice in the same day due to rain. The 2007 Indianapolis 500 was stopped on Lap 113 due to rain and declared over at Lap 166 due to rain. In 1926, the race was temporarily halted because of rain on Lap 71 and was declared over after 160 laps because of rain. The 2004 Indianapolis 500 was stopped on Lap 27 due to rain and was stopped on Lap 180 due to rain.

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The next IndyCar Series event is the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 presented by Time Warner Cable at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 at The Milwaukee Mile. The race will be carried live by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio channel 144 "XM SportsNation and channel 145 "IndyCar Racing" and www.indycar.com.

-credit: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers John Andretti , Tomas Scheckter , Al Unser Jr. , Davey Hamilton , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Jaques Lazier  , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Alex Barron , Dan Wheldon , Mario Andretti , Jim Clark , Al Unser Sr. , Rick Mears , Bobby Unser , Tom Sneva , Danny Sullivan , Jeff Andretti , Kevin Swindell , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Alex Lloyd , Eric Gordon , Bill Vukovich , Roger Penske , Patrick Dempsey , A.J. Foyt , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Williams , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dragon Racing